Execution and execution of the strategy
When I ask audience members in my seminars and speeches “What is your biggest strategic planning problem right now?”, Inevitably I hear the answer “Implementation.” Without a doubt, this is one of the most important problems for any company trying to achieve something at a strategic level: execution inevitably seems to fall short of our stated intentions. As one CEO put it, “We say we will do something and we get excited, but a month later, it is forgotten when we move on to the next.” This may be true even when trying to implement non-strategic objectives, but it is much worse with strategic ones. Why? Because nothing can be postponed more than a strategic goal, until it’s too late to even think strategically. Additionally, strategic objectives are much more likely to introduce powerful changes in your organization, thus meeting much greater resistance than more operations-oriented objectives.
You can improve your effectiveness in implementing strategy through the things you choose to do in your strategic planning process. There are three key areas in which you can do this:
1. Implementation planning,
2. Allocation of resources and
3. Monitoring of implementation.
The approach we take in these three areas is quite different from the norm in strategic planning and produces superior results. According to Robert Half Associates, most companies achieve about 30% of the goals that are set out in a process like strategic planning. With simplified strategic planning, you should be able to average closer to 80%. It’s the unusual way we handle the three key steps of deployment management that makes all the difference.
First, when planning your implementation, it is important to set your goals well. This means using the SMART approach: the goal must be specific, measurable, achievable, and the results must be expressed in a timely manner. Also, you need to make sure you set a reasonable number of goals. We find that many companies improve the efficiency of their execution simply by limiting the goals they set in strategic planning. Second, you need to write a good and clear action plan that is helpful in directing and tracking the implementation of your goals. The approach illustrated in the Simplified Strategic Planning book and seminar is a robust way to ensure this.
In allocating resources, we find that most organizations already pay close attention to the money required for effective implementation. This is the first resource you should consult. Money is important, but it is usually less important in the implementation of the strategy at that time. Ironically, few companies devote half their attention to time as they do to money.
Finally, monitoring the implementation of the strategy is vital, even if it is difficult at times. This implies two important things. First of all, you need to write your action plans so that they can be tracked, which means that the steps should be stated as clear, finite actions that are clearly completed at some point, and also that each step needs a clearly start and end date. established.
Make sure your team follows the recommendations in these three areas and you will find that your execution will improve dramatically.
Copyright 2007 by the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan – Permission to reprint granted with full attribution.